I am a firm believer in surrounding yourself with people who you look up to and who you can learn from. That belief is not strictly associated with people; if I need to get artistic inspiration, I go to a museum, if I need to experience life, I go to a park. I study in the library because I am surrounded by knowledge, books, and an environment of learning when I’m here. There are hundreds of books in Leatherby Libraries that I may not even touch, but the fact that we share a roof when I am inside the library is enough for me to feel a sense of connection with them. It’s the simple nature of sharing a space with something that makes you appreciate it.
As a film major, I am not familiar with the important figures in the field of experimental economics. That changed when I sat in the Vernon Smith Reading Alcove on the second floor of the library. Vernon Smith is a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences who just so happens to teach business economics and law at Chapman University. Known as the father of experimental economics, Smith began conducting economic experiments in the early 1950s that normalized theory-testing and gradually created new institutions for trade. His experiments helped establish how to scientifically examine economic behavior.
When you sit in the Vernon Smith Reading Alcove, you are surrounded by memorabilia from his academic career. Displayed in the alcove are a plethora of awards and honorary degrees from universities all over the world: a certificate of honorary professorship at the Mundell International University of Entrepreneurship, a distinguished service citation from the University of Kansas, a medal for outstanding contributions to Nehal University, as well as a replica of Smith’s Nobel Prize Medal (the original is in the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections & Archives).
Sitting in this reading alcove allows you to be encompassed by this man’s many achievements. Just as a museum allows artistic inspiration, the Vernon Smith Reading Alcove shows students that academics are capable of anything if you have a passion and interest in what you do. I don’t know if Smith and I will ever cross paths, but by simply observing his many honors and recognitions, he has impacted me greatly, leading me to be a better person than I was before.